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Review: Vokey Hand Ground Wedges

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Pros: Hand Ground wedges are made by the same craftsmen who create wedges for tour players. It’s one of the few custom wedge programs that allows consumers to select their favorite grind and tweak it to their preference. It also marks the first time average joes can get their hands on a raw Vokey wedge.

Cons: $350 is a lot for a handmade wedge, but it’s not out of line with Vokey’s competitors. Wedge fanatics will be disappointed that they can’t get handmade pitching wedges, gap wedges and sand wedges.

Bottom Line: A variety of stamping, shaping and sole options makes Hand Ground the go-to lob wedge program for exacting golfers. And if you want your wedge to come off the same grinding wheel as Adam Scott’s wedge, Hand Ground is for you.

Overview

Hand Ground isn’t the average wedge customization service.

Yes, like others it allows golfers to get their wedges with different stamps, letters and phrases. And it also gives golfers the option to pick a custom ferrule, shaft and grip. But Vokey’s WedgeWorks programs already provided all of those options before Hand Ground, along with the ability to purchase WedgeWorks exclusives — limited-edition and TVD wedges that are not available in stores.

Where Hand Ground breaks ground is in its focus on customizable grinds and wedge shaping, which allows golfers to tweak their favorite Vokey grind to their exact preference.

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Four customizable grinds are available through Hand Ground: Vokey’s E Grind, M Grind, T Grind and V Grind, all of which have different playing characteristics. But the beauty of Hand Ground is that even if a golfer were to select a high-bounce wedge, such as a V Grind, he or she could have the wedge tweaked to play with less effective bounce.

That option, called “Pre-Worn” leading edge, is created by grinding off some of the metal on the front of a wedge’s sole. It works to “roll” the leading edge into the sole, allowing the leading edge to sit closer to the ground at address and cut through the ground better in firm conditions.

Conversely, a low-bounce wedge such as Vokey’s T Grind can be made to play with more effective bounce through the addition of a “Pro groove,” a small channel ground into the center of a wedge’s sole that moves the contact point forward. According to Bob Vokey, it can help golfers keep their wedges from digging into the ground on short pitches.

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Above: A Vokey Hand Ground wedge with a pre-worn leading edge and a pro groove. 

Aesthetic changes, such as making the leading edge straighter, the toe squarer or the top line thinner are also possible through Hand Ground.

It should be noted that Vokey is not the only wedge company to offer its grinding services to the public: Cleveland, Edel, James Patrick, Ping, Scratch and others offer wedge grinding and customization services, and unlike Vokey those companies expand their services to pitching, gap and sand wedges.

But none of those companies can claim the high usage of its wedges on the PGA Tour that Vokey boasts, which is the most mesmerizing part of the Hand Ground experience.

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Above: Bob Vokey grinding a Hand Ground wedge for a customer at the Vokey tour department in Carlsbad, Calif.

Since Hand Ground wedges are created in Vokey’s tour department in Carlsbad, Calif., they’re made on the same machines by the same grinders that produce wedges for Adam Scott, Steve Stricker, Jason Dufner and the dozens of other Vokey wedge players on the PGA Tour.

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Above: Each Hand Ground wedge comes with a certificate of authenticity that include the wedge’s specs and is signed by the person who ground the wedge.

Vokey Hand Ground wedges cost $350, and are available for purchase through Vokey’s website. All Hand Ground wedges have a raw finish, which means they will rust over time. According to Vokey, the build time of a Hand Ground wedge takes 10 days from the time the order is confirmed, not including shipping.

Performance

My Hand Ground was made with Vokey’s M Grind — the same grind that was on my current lob wedge, a retail Vokey SM4 60-10. I also ordered it to the same specs, which means that my Hand Ground wedge was nearly identical to my 60-10 on paper — same shaft, grip, swing weight and SM4 grooves. But when I took it to the course, the wedge performed differently thanks to the addition of a pre-worn leading edge.

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Above: A Pre-worn leading edge on a Vokey M Grind Hand Ground wedge.

According to David Neville, Vokey’s marketing manager, wedges with pre-worn leading edges are requested by several tour players. The orders spike in the time before players are scheduled to head overseas for The Open Championship, where the modification helps golfer deal with the faster, firmer conditions that are typical on links golf courses. But you don’t have to be an Open Championship contestant to benefit from a pre-worn leading edge.

I had success with my retail Vokey 60-10 wedge I was fit for in December on straight-faced shots that required a lot of speed, because it allowed me to hit down on the ball steeply without fear that the wedge would dig. But I sometimes struggled to slide the sole of the wedge under the ball on delicate pitch shots from tight lies.

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Above: The tale of two M Grinds. 

The pre-worn leading edge solved that problem, because it made the leading edge sit slightly closer to the ground. That made it much easier for me to slide the wedge under the bottom of the ball, allowing me to contact the ball a groove or two higher on the face. The higher contact point made the ball climb up the face more, creating softer shots with more spin.

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Above: Hand Ground wedges have the same SM4 grooves and face texture as Vokey’s retail wedge models to provide maximum spin. 

As expected, the pre-worn leading edge made the wedge slightly more susceptible to digging compared to my 60-10. But the digging was limited to shorter shots I hit with a straight face and a lot of speed.

I noticed very little difference in the way the wedge performed on full shots and opened-faced shots, which says a lot about the cleverness of Vokey’s sole modifications. Adding a pre-worn leading edge or a pro groove will change a wedge enough to help a golfer do this or that, but it won’t change the wedge completely.

Looks and Feel

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The second modification I had made to my Hand Ground wedge was having the top line made thinner, which Vokey does by removing a small amount of mass from the back of the top line. It’s a look that many golfers, particularly those who play irons with thin top lines, will appreciate at address.

Because Hand Ground wedges come with a raw finish, I speculated that they might have a slightly different feel than my retail wedges with a plated finish. But I was wrong —  I didn’t find any difference in feel.

I did notice, however, that my Hand Ground wedge appeared smaller at address than my Vokey 60-10 with a plated “Tour Satin” finish.

Since Hand Ground wedges have no finish, they will rust as soon as they are introduced to water. In general, wedges with darker finishes look smaller than wedges with lighter finishes, which is why the rusted finish of a Hand Ground will look smaller than a wedge with a Tour Satin finish.

The Takeaway

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If you’re a Vokey lover, there’s only two good reasons not to get a Hand Ground wedge:

  1. It’s out of your price range.
  2. You haven’t taken the time to learn what grind or grind modification will help you play better.

$350 is a lot to pay for a wedge, especially for golfers who like to practice and can wear out as many as two new wedges per season. But it’s a two-edged sword — usually, if golfers are willing to put in the time to practice their wedge game, they’re also willing to spend the money to have their perfect wedge built.

For golfers who don’t know what grind is best for them, I can’t recommend a wedge fitting enough. Wedge makers are offering more grind options on their retail wedges than ever before, and golfers who aren’t testing all the different retail bounce, sole width and camber options aren’t getting the most out of their wedge games.

If you’ve already done such a fitting and think that a program like Vokey’s Hand Ground can help you, you’re probably right. Aside from the putter, no club is more important to scoring than the lob wedge, and golfers should take care to make sure they’re playing one that fits them as well as possible.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Tyler

    Aug 21, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Just too expensive. C’mon, $350 for a damn wedge!

  2. Jateen Rama

    Aug 19, 2013 at 3:57 am

    I love these wedges – reminds me of my own hand ground Vokey wedge that ive ground myself with pre ground leading edge………. will post pix soon!!!!!

  3. Matt

    Aug 16, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    why don’t they sell raw vokeys off the rack?!?!?

  4. Tyler

    Aug 16, 2013 at 7:11 pm

    $350 is crazy. You can get a nice Scratch wedge for $180 that will perform just as well.

    I never really cared for Vokey’s anyway. My Ping Tour S Rustiques serve me well and they were $80 bucks.

  5. dunn

    Aug 15, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Vokey doesnt make these…….sure there is a team of grinders there that do it…….$350 is way way to much

  6. Jordan

    Aug 11, 2013 at 11:32 am

    I’m a huge fan of vokey wedges, but $350 is just ridiculous. I’ll stick to the $130 wedge, that’ll work just as well as these.

  7. stephenf

    Jul 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Sometimes it’s not a matter of being “willing” to spend the money, you know. $350 is just outrageous, and it is symptomatic of the price-out that is going on with this once-great game. For a lot of people, especially teenagers or people working entry-level jobs, playing golf is a rare and expensive occasion rather than a regular thing. And if you have a family? If you want to raise your kids in the game, and the only courses in your area charge $20-30 and up for green fees? How are you going to do that with two or three kids, once or twice a week, if you’re anywhere near an average income earner?

    If we wanted to turn this game back into a pastime for the privileged few, if the great era of affordable public play is over, we could hardly do a better job than we’re doing.

    • Gary

      Oct 17, 2013 at 2:52 pm

      Good points. Golf is an expensive game as it is, and thankfully there are cheaper options out there for people who can’t afford the expensive stuff. If money were no object I might think about these ones but you can get a really nice wedge with a good grind for 120-150 bucks, or cheaper if you have some patience.

  8. Square

    Jul 28, 2013 at 5:09 am

    I wear them out too fast to justity this price….

  9. Finchi5

    Jul 26, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Maybe why James ‘Patrick’ Harrington is joining the team!

  10. Zack

    Jul 26, 2013 at 3:35 am

    So who grinds the wedges off the rack?

  11. Bobby

    Jul 25, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    $350?!?! That’s crazy! You can get a custom grind and custom engraved Hopkins Golf wedge for $150 and a custom Cleveland wedge for $210! Why waste your money on a vokey when you can get the same, if not better wedge from Hopkins or Cleveland.

  12. Augustine

    Jul 25, 2013 at 9:28 am

    um… so the $149 Vokey Wedge is in fact… NOT made by Bob himself but just bears his name? what a surprise!

    For $350 I’d go with James Patrick…

  13. Lance

    Jul 25, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Great write up and photos. When the big boys start doing the little things like this, that usually means trouble for the smaller nitch companies. (Scratch)

    I’m excited to see more of these. What is the turnaround time?

  14. J

    Jul 25, 2013 at 1:31 am

    350.00 is just too much. 🙂

    • Gary

      Oct 17, 2013 at 2:47 pm

      Same here, nice club but too much for my blood. I will stick with my Cally Mack Daddy 2 with a Project X Flighted 95 shaft at no extra charge.

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Accessory Reviews

Review: FlightScope Mevo

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In 100 Words

The Mevo is a useful practice tool for amateur golfers and represents a step forward from previous offerings on the market. It allows golfers to practice indoors or outdoors and provides club speed, ball speed, smash factor, launch angle, spin rate, carry distance and flight time.

It also has a video capture mode that will overlay swing videos with the swing data of a specific swing. It is limited in its capabilities and its accuracy, though, which golfers should expect at this price point. All in all, it’s well worth the $499 price tag if you understand what you’re getting.

The Full Review

The FlightScope Mevo is a launch monitor powered by 3D Doppler radar. With a retail price of $499, it is obviously aimed to reach the end consumer as opposed to PGA professionals and club fitters.

The Mevo device itself is tiny. Like, really tiny. It measures 3.5-inches wide, 2.8-inches tall and 1.2-inches deep. In terms of everyday products, it’s roughly the size of an Altoids tin. It’s very easy to find room for it in your golf bag, and the vast majority of people at the range you may be practicing at won’t even notice it’s there. Apart from the Mevo itself, in the box you get a quick start guide, a charging cable, a carrying pouch, and some metallic stickers… more on those later. It has a rechargeable internal battery that reaches a full charge in about two hours and lasts for about four hours when fully charged.

As far as software goes, the Mevo pairs with the Mevo Golf app on your iOS or Android device. The app is free to download and does not require any subscription fees (unless you want to store and view videos of your swing online as opposed to using the memory on your device). The app is very easy to use even for those who aren’t tech savvy. Make sure you’re using the most current version of the firmware for the best results, though (I did experience some glitches at first until I did so). The settings menu does have an option to manually force firmware writing, but updates should happen automatically when you start using the device.

Moving through the menus, beginning sessions, editing shots (good for adding notes on things like strike location or wind) are all very easy. Video mode did give me fits the first time I used it, though, as it was impossible to maintain my connection between my phone and the Mevo while having the phone in the right location to capture video properly. The only way I could achieve this was by setting the Mevo as far back from strike location as the device would allow. Just something to keep in mind if you find you’re having troubles with video mode.

Screenshot of video capture mode with the FlightScope Mevo

Using the Mevo

When setting up the Mevo, it needs to be placed between 4-7 feet behind the golf ball, level with the playing surface and pointed down the target line. The distance you place the Mevo behind the ball does need to be entered into the settings menu before starting your session. While we’re on that subject, before hitting balls, you do need to select between indoor, outdoor, and pitching (ball flight less than 20 yards) modes, input your altitude and select video or data mode depending on if you want to pair your data with videos of each swing or just see the data by itself. You can also edit the available clubs to be monitored, as you will have to tell the Mevo which club you’re using at any point in time to get the best results. Once you get that far, you’re pretty much off to the races.

Testing the Mevo

I tested the FlightScope Mevo with Brad Bachand at Man O’ War Golf Center in Lexington, Kentucky. Brad is a member of the PGA and has received numerous awards for golf instruction and club fitting. I wanted to put the Mevo against the best device FlightScope has to offer and, luckily, Brad does use his $15,000 FlightScope X3 daily. We had both the FlightScope Mevo and Brad’s FlightScope X3 set up simultaneously, so the numbers gathered from the two devices were generated from the exact same strikes. Brad also set up the two devices and did all of the ball striking just to maximize our chances for success.

The day of our outdoor session was roughly 22 degrees Fahrenheit. There was some wind on that day (mostly right to left), but it wasn’t a major factor. Our setup is pictured below.

Outdoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our outdoor testing are shown below. The testing was conducted with range balls, and we did use the metallic stickers. The range balls used across all the testing were all consistently the same brand. Man O’ War buys all new range balls once a year and these had been used all throughout 2017.  The 2018 batch had not yet been purchased at the time that testing was conducted.

Raw outdoor data captured with range balls including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

You’ll notice some peculiar data in the sand wedge spin category. To be honest, I don’t fully know what contributed to the X3 measuring such low values. While the Mevo’s sand wedge spin numbers seem more believable, you could visibly see that the X3 was much more accurate on carry distance. Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our outdoor session when separated out for each club. As previously mentioned, though, take sand wedge spin with a grain of salt.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (outdoor testing).

The first thing we noticed was that the Mevo displays its numbers while the golf ball is still in midair, so it was clear that it wasn’t watching the golf ball the entire time like the X3. According to the Mevo website, carry distance, height and flight time are all calculated while club speed, ball speed, launch angle and spin rate are measured. As for the accuracy of the measured parameters, the Mevo’s strength is ball speed. The accuracy of the other measured ball parameters (launch angle and spin rate) is questionable depending on certain factors (quality of strike, moisture on the clubface and ball, quality of ball, etc). I would say it ranges between “good” or “very good” and “disappointing” with most strikes being categorized as “just okay.”

As for the calculated parameters of carry distance, height and time, those vary a decent amount. Obviously, when the measurements of the three inputs become less accurate, the three outputs will become less accurate as a result. Furthermore, according to FlightScope, the Mevo’s calculations are not accounting for things like temperature, humidity, and wind. The company has also stated, though, that future updates will likely adjust for these parameters by using location services through the app.

Now, let’s talk about those metallic stickers. According to the quick start guide, the Mevo needs a sticker on every golf ball you hit, and before you hit each ball, the ball needs to be placed such that the sticker is facing the target. It goes without saying that it doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun to spend time putting those stickers on every ball, let alone balls that will never come back to you if you’re at a public driving range. Obviously, people are going to want to avoid using the stickers if they can, so do they really matter? Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls with and without the use of the stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you use the metallic stickers and when you don’t

The FlightScope website says that the metallic stickers “are needed in order for the Mevo to accurately measure ball spin.” We observed pretty much the same as shown in the table above. The website also states they are working on alternative solutions to stickers (possibly a metallic sharpie), which I think is wise.

Another thing we thought would be worth testing is the impact of different golf balls. Below is a table of data showing the percent difference between the Mevo’s data and the X3’s data of what we collected outdoors with a driver and range balls as compared to Pro V1’s. All of this data was collected using the metallic stickers.

Table showing how the percent difference of each parameter changes between Mevo and X3 when you switch from range balls to Pro V1’s

As shown above, the data gets much closer virtually across the board when you use better quality golf balls. Just something else to keep in mind when using the Mevo.

Indoor testing requires 8 feet of ball flight (impact zone to hitting net), which was no problem for us. Our setup is pictured below. All of the indoor testing was conducted with Titleist Pro V1 golf balls using the metallic stickers.

Indoor testing setup with FlightScope X3 (foreground) and Mevo

The results of our indoor session are shown below.

Raw indoor data captured with Pro V1’s including metallic stickers. Mevo data (blue) and X3 data (orange) were both generated from the same exact shots.

Below is a quick summary of the percent differences between each of the parameters as presented by the Mevo and the X3 in our indoor session when separated out for each club.

Table showing the percent difference of each parameter between Mevo and X3 grouped by club (indoor testing)

On the whole, the data got much closer together between the two devices in our indoor session. I would think a lot of that can be attributed to the use of quality golf balls and to removing outdoor factors like wind and temperature (tying into my previous comment above).

As far as overall observations between all sessions, the most striking thing was that the Mevo consistently gets more accurate when you hit really good, straight shots. When you hit bad shots, or if you hit a fade or a draw, it gets less and less accurate.

The last parameter to address is club speed, which came in around 5 percent different on average between the Mevo and X3 based on all of the shots recorded. The Mevo was most accurate with the driver at 2.1 percent different from the X3 over all strikes and it was the least accurate with sand wedge by far. Obviously, smash factor accuracy will follow club speed for the most part since ball speed is quite accurate. Over every shot we observed, the percent difference on ball speed was 1.2 percent on average between the Mevo and the X3. Again, the Mevo was least accurate with sand wedges. If I remove all sand wedge shots from the data, the average percent difference changes from 1.2 percent to 0.7 percent, which is very, very respectable.

When it comes to the different clubs used, the Mevo was by far most accurate with mid irons. I confirmed this with on-course testing on a relatively flat 170-yard par-3 as well. Carry distances in that case were within 1-2 yards on most shots (mostly related to quality of strike). With the driver, the Mevo was reasonably close, but I would also describe it as generous. It almost always missed by telling me that launch angle was higher, spin rate was lower and carry distance was farther than the X3. Generally speaking, the Mevo overestimated our driver carries by about 5 percent. Lastly, the Mevo really did not like sand wedges at all. Especially considering those shots were short enough that you could visibly see how far off the Mevo was with its carry distance. Being 10 yards off on a 90 yard shot was disappointing.

Conclusion

The Mevo is a really good product if you understand what you’re getting when you buy it. Although the data isn’t good enough for a PGA professional, it’s still a useful tool that gives amateurs reasonable feedback while practicing. It’s also a fair amount more accurate than similar products in its price range, and I think it could become even better with firmware updates as Flightscope improves upon its product.

This is a much welcomed and very promising step forward in consumer launch monitors, and the Mevo is definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for one.

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Sergio Garcia WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/20/2018).

Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage Dual Core 70TX

3 Wood: Callaway Rogue 3+ (13.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 80TX

5 Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (18 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi KuroKage XT 80TX

Irons: Callaway Apex Pro 16 (3, 4), Callaway Apex MB 18 (5-9 iron)
Shafts: Nippon Modus Tour 130x

Wedges: Callaway Mack Daddy 4 (48-10S, 54-10S, 58-08C)
Shafts: Nippon Modus Tour 130x

Putter: Odyssey Toulon Azalea
Grip: Super Stroke 1.0 SGP

Golf Ball: Callaway Chrome Soft

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Garcia’s clubs.

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Gary Woodland WITB 2018

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Equipment is accurate as of the 2018 Honda Classic (2/19/2018).

Driver: TaylorMade M3 440 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Acra Tour-Z RPG

Fairway Woods: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shafts: Accra Tour-Zx 4100

Driving Iron: Titleist 716 T-MB (2)
Shaft: KBS Tour C-Taper 130 X

Irons: Titleist 716 MB (4-9)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited Edition Black PVD 130 X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (48-10F, 52-08F, 56-10S), Callaway Mack Daddy PM Grind (60-10)
Shafts: KBS Tour C-Taper Limited X (48), KBS Hi-Rev Black PVD S-Flex (52, 56, 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Circle T 009
Grip: Scotty Cameron Pistol

Golf Ball: Bridgestone Tour B X

Related:

Discussion: See what GolfWRX members are saying about Woodland’s clubs. 

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